MOLD. In the basement.

Ugh.  Literally the worst discovery ever.  Especially when you’re 30 weeks pregnant.

We have a pretty large finished basement that serves many purposes… gym, bar, bathroom, storage, workshop, garages, and theater.  The theater and workshop are the most heavily used of the spaces, because projects. And mindless weekend movies after bedtime. 

We’ve talked before about how we bought all of the flooring for this house at almost 3 years ago at this point.  About 2500 sq ft of flooring, and only some of it has been installed.  So we still have a lot of flooring boxes laying around the house, hidden under beds, and in the basement.  So we have stacks of boxes around the theater haha.

Basement Floor Plan

One day, we were headed downstairs on a weekend to watch a movie after Connor went to bed, and something on the wall near the boxes caught my eye. It was black.  And my stomach immediately turned.

At 30 weeks pregnant, I immediately backed away and pointed it out to David.  We both agreed, it was mold.  It looked like it traveled down under the boxes, in the carpet, too.  And we got discouraged and ignored it for a little while haha.  David got a little motivated to find a band-aid, and found a dehumidifier on Craigslist and went to buy it.  We DIY a lot of stuff, but with both of us having asthma, we really didn’t want to even touch this.

I was in complete denial of this whole situation.  I kept ignoring it.  I HATE when these things pop up; unplanned projects and surprises are my worst nightmare.  I’m a planner.  So I was really no help in this project.  David finally started to contact some waterproofing companies to come in and give us an opinion/recommendations/quotes. And MAN, just like the load bearing wall removal project we did, the contractors thoughts/opinions/quotes were ALL OVER THE PLACE. 

Overall, we had 4 contractors come in, and here were their views.  All agreed, that there was probably a crack in the foundation (not uncommon) that was allowing water to leak in down the basement wall, which was causing the moisture and therefore the mold.

Mold spot and location of sump pumps
The blue lines show where we thought the existing trenches to be that ran to the sump pumps.

Contractor 1:  A mold remediation/waterproofing company. We called, and they said we needed to get a “mold inspection” from a mold inspection company before they could come out and give us a quote.  So we called the mold inspection company, and they said they would come out and confirm that it was indeed mold, do some clean-up, and give us a certificate… for $400.  Seriously?  That wasn’t even the repair work.  We decided to skip it… it’s obvious it was mold.

Contractor 2: A waterproofing company. The guy who came out was quite a Chatty Cathy.  But, we learned a bit from him about basement moisture and air circulation tools that we should consider for the future.  His base recommendation was to dig out another trench in this part of the basement to allow the water flow from the front wall to the sump pump over in the garage.  This would cost about $3000. He also recommended that we grade the front landscaping away from the house, which was also needed, but not included in his work.

Proposed new trench shown in green

Contractor 3: A basement waterproofing company.  He recommended going all out, ripping all the drywall out inside, repair the crack, also dig out the front landscaping and repair the crack from the outside, and also dig out the trench both ways, as shown in the picture below.  Cost would be about $9500.

Dig out trench both ways

Contractor 4: Another waterproofing company. Clean and trench both directions like the picture above, except to add an additional sump pump in the storage room (see below).  Cost would be $5000. 

New sump pump shown in yellow.

Contractor 4: A basement waterproofing company. Basically he came and took a look at the wall and poked around.  And he made us feel like idiots.  Plus made all of the other contractors look like idiots.  Because he found that the trench already goes all the way around the house, and there was no need to dig a new one or add in another in the storage room.  He said that we did indeed have a crack, but it really wasn’t that bad (ie, not really that detrimental to the house or having the basement wall cave in or something).  He recommended to give the crack a direct drainage line to the trench, and seal it so that the moisture doesn’t reach the insulation or joists. patching the crack with system they created. Cost would be about $900.

So we finally decided to break it all open and finally take a look since we decided on a contractor (we were kind of reluctant to do this along the way because we weren’t sure what we were going to stir up, and we wanted to use the room in the meantime).  This is what we found.  You can kind of tell that it had been “patched” or filled in before, and it didn’t last.  Nor did they reveal that information to us when they sold us the house. Sigh.

David got in and moved the electrical and stud out of the way (it wasn’t a structural support, it only to hold up the drywall) so that the contractor could come in and do his work.

He moved away all the flooring boxes when he was ready to clean. It cleaned up pretty well with a strong bleach/water solution and a scrub brush (with some breathing protection).

Mold under the flooring boxes
Destroyed flooring ūüôĀ

So we didn’t get any pictures of the contractor doing the work, but the system that they used to repair the crack leakage is called FlexiSpan and the information on it can be found HERE. Basically, it acts as a double protection, as it provides a drainage channel down the wall to direct the water down to the trench and therefore the sump pump. And then, that channel is then sealed with a polymer that is flexible to allow for slight foundation movement over time and prevents water escaping.

You can see the result below.

We’ve been letting it air out for about 6 months now, to ensure that it wasn’t going to leak again, and to allow for the wood to dry out. That’s also just because we’re lazy and haven’t felt like finishing the job up yet ūüėÄ

Unfinished/finished theater

We’re really happy with our decision and very happy that we brought in so many contractors to really give us some good recommendations and background on the issue. If we hadn’t brought in so many, we wouldn’t have learned some good tips about air circulation, trench design, necessary natural light needs, and good yard/landscaping grading tips to keep water away from your foundation. We have some work to do in the yard over time, but I think our basement leak is in a good spot now. Eventually, we’ll put the drywall back up and patch it up, but #ain’tnobodygottimeforthat.

Checkout that big beautiful stack of hardwood floors.

One day, we’ll make this theater look amazing. But for now, it’s functional for us to watch movies. And also store hardwood flooring ūüėÄ

Fixing Leaks and Rebuilding a Chimney

So I just realized that David and I pretty much forgot about this pretty sizable project. ¬†While there was little effort involved on our side (this was not a DIY job!), there was a considerable dent in our wallet afterwards. ¬†We’ve had so much craziness going on with the wall lately, that there wasn’t enough space in our minds to think about this.

Earlier in the year, we wrote THIS POST about discovering some wet drywall in the ceiling of one of our guest bedrooms, and how we identified where the moisture came from.

Long story short, the roofer we had come out to look at the roof and identified that the chimney was the culprit, not the roof:

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The Wall is Down!

Since the load bearing wall removal is finally complete and now we’re just working on the furnishing and room design, I figured I’d do a post summarizing all of the posts and work we’ve done over the past few months.¬†Plus, I like being organized and having things in one place, much to the annoyance of my husband, but who still reaps the benefits of this trait anyway.

We started with this mess of a never used room:

And are now here, to a beautiful, open, family room:

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This Wall is Coming Down! – The REVEAL

Well, after about 3 months, we have a habitable room again… sans furniture! ¬†Many months of planning and preparation allowed us to get here, and David and I trucking through the final touches after the contractors were finished have finally given us the big, beautiful room that we had always hoped and planned for when we bought this house.

Wanna see?

Here’s a reminder of what we were looking at before. From standing in the kitchen ¬†we used to see this:

And now, we see this:

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This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC, Electrical, & Drywall

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Thank you to all of our armed forces who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have today <3  I read something in the news last week about the National Moment of Remembrance that I probably should have know about before, but I hope everyone took a moment to think about the importance of this holiday.

What. A. Project. ¬†The end is near, you guys! ¬†Yet, not near enough. ¬†Sorry for being so silent these past few weeks. ¬†We’ve been posting over on our IG¬†about some progress here and there, but life has just gotten in the way. ¬†Surviving through the days lately has been our motto.

The good news! ¬†The contractors are all done! (Well almost… apparently there is a rule that you must have a smoke detector in every bedroom before we’re allowed to close out our building permit, but eh, minor details.) ¬†And now the rest is left up to us to finish. ¬†So here, we’ll just detail out some of the rest of the things the contractors had to take care of before they handed it over to us.

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Demo & Installation

We recently covered the HVAC selection and install, and also the design of the beam. Now it’s time to get to the good stuff… demo & installation!

We were so excited for this day. DEMO DAY!  When we were planning this project back before Connor was born, we had originally planned to do all of this ourselves.  Taking a sledgehammer to some perfectly clean drywall?  Does it get any better than that?

Side note…Does anyone else like Brooklyn 99? ¬†It’s one of our guilty pleasures. Demo is¬†probably the most fun part of any project (with the exception of sitting down once you’re done and enjoying the finished product), so why would we pay someone to do it?

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This Wall Is Coming Down! – Engineers, Contractors and Beams. Oh My!

The HVAC Portion of getting this wall down was a large part of the project, but there was still a lot more planning that needed to go into it. It became obvious to us pretty quickly when getting quotes for the structural work that choosing a contractor was going to be hard. The quotes were all over the place, with the main difference being the size of the beam. We received quotes for everything from a 11 3/4″ x 5 1/4″ beam to a 18″ x 7″ beam to span our 21′ distance. So how do we know if a beam is big enough to support the weight or if one is overkill? How were the contractors coming up with the beam size? How can we choose a contractor when we don’t have a standard beam size?

To get the beam size, the contractors were going to suppliers and providing measurements and answering questions. The supplier would then tell them the size of the beam necessary. The main things that are important to calculate the load on the beam are the:

  • length of the beam
  • height and length of the floor joists the beam will support
  • number of floors above the beam
  • the type of attic (truss or stick framing)
  • many other factors

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